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Vodafone says Sayonara Japan

Vodafone is getting out of dodge – errr Japan, which is fast becoming a telecom Dodge City, thanks to a bitter price war between NTT DoCoMo and Softbank. Vodafone sold its Japanese subsidiary to Softbank for about $15.4 billion, after consistently losing market share and money. Softbank, in what is being called the biggest leveraged buyout in Asia, gets a wireless asset that will allow it to offer four-play services to its customers and compete NTT on an equal footing. Vodafone will get about $11.87 billion in cash. Rest of will amount to about 10% stake in a holding company, and some warrants. Vodafone had about 17% of the total Japanese market.

The proceeds of the sale will be used for giving out dividend to shareholders, but in my opinion, that is a classic bad move from greedy mutual funds. The company should be hanging on to its money and using it for growth in other countries where it can make a perceptible impact. On the flip side, this sale takes away a lot of pressure from Vodafone to make a hasty deal with Verizon Wireless. It now has enough breathing room to basically negotiate a premium for its share in VZW.

3 Responses to “Vodafone says Sayonara Japan”

  1. I love that last comment from Wireless Watch Japan ‘highly valuable synergistic move…defeated by fickle consumers’.
    And we would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for you pesky customers!
    That’s telco all over…

  2. What a disaster for a transaction that started 4 years ago!

    The initial intentions where good as it was a quick way for Vodafone to recoup the billions of dollars paid for in 3G licenses in Europe. Forced to take action in lieu of promises made by Nokia and Ericsson that they would deliver in time the necessary hardware to intiate 3G services and could start the ROI for the licenses. But 4 months later Nokia and Ericsson anounced that they would not be ready to deliver handsets for another 2 years! Chocking the carriers in debt interest for their billion dollar licenses.

    In a stroke that seemed brilliant at the time, Vodafone bought then J-Phone, Japans number two carrier and next inline to deploy 3G services. Wow what a leap that would be for a carrier from Europe to bring back real advance mobile technology and know-how in 3G services. But in the end the idea got corrupeted in the UK and it all went downhill in less that 36 months. Leaving Vodafone Japan in 3rd place and bleeding badly.

    The editor of “Wirleless Watch Japan” summed it up real good:

    What a sad end to what could have been a highly valuable synergistic move into the world’s most advanced 3G market! Defeated by fickle consumers, the lack of a low-end tier in the segment, and the challenge of coordinating terminals and technologies across borders, Vodafone is heading home. The price of the deal, a whopping 15 billion bucks, proves that Vodafone KK is a valuable commodity — in the right hands. — Eds.

  3. Yeah I agree that the Japanese sale will ease pressure somewhat but still it was planned before the pressure to sell its VZW stake as well.

    So nothing really has changed – the investment community is still expecting Vodafone and VZW to do a transaction. The question is when in 06 and no doubt it’ll be a premium.

    At that point, why can’t Vodafone take that premium (and probably way more money than the Japanese sale) to strengthening its growth in other countries?

    If that’s the case, does a sale mean a tad more Capex boost in 07/08 for Vodafone?